Plotting 3D Models FAQ

 Version(s):V8i, CONNECT Edition

 What are the rules to follow when printing Dynamic Views?

Many times when printing Dynamic Views in MicroStation, the desired results may not be what is expected.  Whether printing from MicroStation or using InterPlot, the render mode defined in the display style determines whether Rasterized mode is required to achieve the desired results.

MicroStation can print regular hidden line in non-rasterized mode, which is a new feature in V8i, but filled hidden lines will not print the fills unless rasterized mode is enabled. In this case, rasterized mode is not enforced; you can print filled hidden line in non-rasterized mode, but it'll look like regular hidden line. If the view is affected by multiple display styles, the highest render mode in the view controls whether rasterized print mode is enforced. For example, if any display style is shaded, the entire view must be rasterized.

Regarding the use of pen tables, understanding the interactions between traditional pen table element-based output actions and the modern dynamic view system is not simple. In general, one should choose to use Dynamic Views OR element-based pen tables -- not both. However, it should be noted that pen maps defined in a MicroStation pen table will work and can be used in a Dynamic View workflow. The reason for this is because the pen maps are applied to all elements and not based on element selection criteria. A similar effect can be achieved using InterPlot design scripts.

If the above recommendations do not give you the desired results, the best practice for printing Dynamic Views is to set the Visible Edges to Cached rather than Dynamic in the reference file attachment settings.

See (New in SS3) Cached Visible Edge Display for more details regarding Cached visible edges:

What format is used in Bentley’s 3D PDFs?

 Bentley created universal 3D (U3d) PDF output. 

How do I create a 3D PDF?

When creating the 3D PDF using MicroStation Print, you must select the “Print to 3D” option on the Print dialog to get a 3D PDF.


You can also configure the pdf.pltcfg to print to 3D automatically by setting “Default Print to 3D” to True:


The “Print to 3D” option can be set in a Print Style as follows:


What are the preferred settings to create a 3D PDF with the minimum resources?

Printing a Model to a 3D PDF file results in a very large file and sometimes the process is terminated with an exception error due to insufficient resources.  In the Print dialog, use the following settings:

Settings -> 3D Plotting -> General

How can I create a 3D PDF when printing with Property Publishing?

With the release of MicroStation V8i SS3, you can publish non-graphical business items to a 3D PDF document. These business items appear as objects in Adobe Reader’s Model Tree.

By default, business items are not included in the published 3D PDF document. You must take additional steps to include the business items. To include business items in a 3D PDF document, use the 3D Plotting Options dialog.

To include a subset of the business items contained in a 3D design file, you must create a Property Filter file using the property Filter dialog and specify this file in the 3D Plotting Options dialog.

To create a PDF Property Filter File

  1. Open a 3D design file and select File->Print
  2. Select Settings->PDF Property Filter
  3. Select the business items and associated properties
  4. Select File->Save As
  5. Type in the File name and click save
  6. Select File->Exit

Note: You can also create a Property Filter file using File – Item Browser.

To Publish All or a Subset of the Business items

  1. Open a 3D design file
  2. Select File->Print
  3. Under Printer and Paper Size, set the printer driver to the Bentley PDF printer driver (pdf.pltcfg)
  4. Set the Print to 3D check box
  5. Select Settings->3D Plotting
  6. Click the Include Properties drop-down list box
  7. Select All or Filtered by Property Filter File
  8. If you selected Filtered by Property Filter File, click the browse icon and select a Property Filter file.
  9. Click OK
  10. Select File->Print to publish the PDF document

Is it possible to print 3d drawings to a 3D PDF with e-links to use inside the U3D PDF?

E-links to URLs will get carried over to the 3D PDF file and work, but e-links to external files will not.  You can create multi-page PDF files in InterPlot with links that will jump to other pages in the PDF file but not to external files outside the PDF.

How do I follow the engineering links on a 3D object inside the 3D PDF file created from MicroStation printing?

To follow the link in Acrobat Reader do the following:  Right-click in the PDF and choose “Follow Link” or double click the element with the link and you will be directed to the location of the URL.

When printing to U3D PDF, why is the Fence print area not honored?

Since U3D is based on a ModelFacetter Framework, the model will need to be clipped prior to printing to U3D rather than using a fence to define the desired area.

Will point cloud surveys will appear in PDF files created by MicroStation Print?

Point cloud data in a U3D is not supported. This is a limitation of the U3D format.  One option would be to deliver an i-model that includes point cloud data.  This would require the recipient to have Navigator. ProjectWise InterPlot allows users to embed other files into a PDF using a design script.  The viewer of the PDF would need Navigator to view it.

Why do shadows not display in a 3D PDF?

If creating a 3D PDF file from a DGN model containing shadows, the shadows will preview but will not show in the 3D PDF file in Adobe Acrobat.  Adobe Acrobat does not support shadows in a U3D PDF.

Why is the raster not correct in the U3D PDF?

If raster is separated from the vector when rotating the view, move the raster from the “Background” to the “Design Plane”.

PDF files attached via Raster Manager will also need to be moved to the Design Plane to display correctly.

Why do the colors in the 3D PDF not match the 2D PDF or the colors in the dgn file?

Rendering a 2D PDF is done via the MicroStation Engine and gives WYSIWYG results.  Rendering a 3D PDF is the result of Adobe real-time rendering.  Due to the differences in rendering, there is no way to guarantee the same effect.

What is the JavaScript file used for when creating a 3D PDF?

A JavaScript includes code to control animations and additional tools to control geometry display in a 3D PDF.

You can enter the file name in the JavaScript field in the 3D Plotting Options of the Print dialog, or else use the Browse button to search for the required file. If the file name only is used, MS_DATA can be used to define its location.


Why does AutoCAD display/print 3d objects in the viewport as Hidden but MicroStation Print does not?

Set the variable MS_DWGREF_USESHADEPLOT=1 in the Workspace – Configuration to correct this problem.  Make sure this configuration variable is set in the configuration that is being used as the IPLOT Engine.





How can an i-model be embedded into a 3D PDF?

The i-model plug-in for Adobe Reader allows you to include and interact with i-models in PDF files. Using the plug-in from within Adobe Acrobat, you can interactively embed the i-model on any sheet, at any location, at any size within the target PDF document. Then using either Adobe Acrobat or Reader, you can view, print, and interact with the graphical content and associated properties of the i-model in a PDF.  The viewer inside the i-model plug-in contains a set of view controls to assist in viewing and navigating the i-model. You can click a view control from the View Control toolbox across the top of the viewer, or you can right-click inside the viewer to select the view control from a menu.   Using either Adobe Acrobat or Reader, you can print the graphical content of the i-model in a PDF document. 

You can download the i-Model plug-in for Adobe Reader from the following location:

How do I print rendered views to my 3D PDF?

Rendered views can only be printed in rasterized mode. A view is considered rendered if any of the display styles affecting that view have a shaded render mode.  U3D offers different rendering modes in its toolbar in Adobe.

How do change the render view in a PDF?

In the U3D Viewer a different render Mode can be selected from its toolbar.

Using the same toolbar, you can also change the lighting:


How do I troubleshoot a 3D PDF issue?

Identify if the issue is in the U3D file itself or in the 3D PDF file created by MicroStation.

Open the 3D model in MicroStation.  Export the model to U3D (File > Export > U3D).  Open the U3D file using Adobe Acrobat.  Compare the manually created 3D PDF to the one created by MicroStation Print.

If the U3D PDF and the 3D PDF created by MicroStation Printing exhibit the same issue, the issue is a U3D issue and should be reported to MicroStation Platform support.

If the U3D PDF looks correct but the 3D PDF created by MicroStation printing is incorrect, the issue is a 3D PDF printing issue and should be reported to MicroStation Printing support.

If you receive an exception log when exporting to U3D or PDF, capture the logs and report to Bentley.


 Original Author:Dawn Gentry